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America's Cup Race 5 – A shocking loss by Oracle

by Rob Kothe & the Sail-World Team on 11 Sep 2013
010/09/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America’s Cup - ORACLE Team USA vs Emirates Team New Zealand, Race Day 3 © ACEA / Ricardo Pinto http://photo.americascup.com/
Defender Oracle Team USA was down -1 to 3 to Emirates Team New Zealand. Ahead of the start, the wind was blowing down the course at 18 knots from the Golden Gate Bridge.

There was a current at 1.9 knots flooding down the course, the most relief is on the San Francisco shoreline.


At the start of Race 5 Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) came in on port. With 30 seconds to go, Oracle was closer to the line. Emirates was fast to leeward at the gun, but Oracle was able to put her bow down and came over the top and was two lengths ahead at the first mark.

Oracle had more speed in the early part of the first downwind leg, they were 200 metres ahead when ETNZ gybed and the USA team covered.

Oracle led to Gate 2 at the bottom of the course, eight seconds ahead.


In the defining move of the race Oracle went to the right looking for tidal relief below Alcatraz. It was a less than perfect attempt at a foiling tack and on top of that the call from tactician John Kostecki did not pay off.

On the cross most of Oracle's lead had disappeared.

Midway up leg three the Kiwis in less current were back in the lead, they dumped on the USA team forcing them away.

Faster thru the tack ETNZ was soon running away with the race on the long upwind leg. Heading towards the top of the course ETNZ were soon 250 metres in the lead.

The delta at the top mark was a painful 77 seconds.

There had been a shocking 1500 metre loss by Oracle Team USA from the bottom of leg 3 to down the run.

At the final mark 4, before the blast reach to the finish, the Kiwis were 74 seconds ahead and went on for their fourth win. The final delta was 65 seconds.


Dean Barker - 'They managed to get over us on the first reach. It was encouraging to be able to get back into the race as we did. We were not unhappy when they'

Jimmy Spithill ‘We had a bigger jib and that hurt us.‘

The reality is ETNZ is sailing faster and sailing better and the Kiwi’s now just five wins from taking the America's Cup.

Then over the cracking VHF radio comes the news....

Oracle Team USA has called for a postponement. Race 6 will not be sailed today.

Each competitor has one postponement card to play in the series. They can use it for an equipment issue or because they don´t want to sail in the conditions.

But calling a spade a spade, Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill admits, 'We need to go back and regroup, we feel they have got an edge on us upwind and in the tacking.

'We need to up our game, we are not going to hide from that.'

He is right of course, Oracle is faster on the reaches, speed is about event downwind but upwind the Kiwis are sailing away with this 34th America's Cup series and Oracle has called Time Out.

But a day and half of hard thinking nd hard practice is not going to change some of the key design difference between the boats.

The two boats have different daggarboard control systems, Oracle's is completely hydraulic, while ETNZ's is a mix of hydraulics and control lines and its proving easier to use and faster and it shows.

Boat speeds thru the tack from ETNZ are bottoming out at 12 knots while for Oracle, their lowest speed can be 8 knots and that is a winning difference for the Kiwi team.

Here is the full coverage of Race 5 and the aftermath

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